March 26, 2016

Hurricanes out in Sweet 16: How successful was season? Poll. Vote now!; plus my updated bracket, Serena Williams, Miami Open tennis vs. Doral golf poll, LeBron's weird dream, McShay's latest Fins mock, your Brightest Future winner (tight!) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 26. Did you make it a good Good Friday, Christians? 2) Happy 69th birthday today to Elton John, one of my musical and cultural heroes. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bright Futures 25&U poll, Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena backs Miami Open, Dolphins on the cheap, your Obama-Cuba verdict, Melania Trump ad & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Serena and the Miami Open: The Miami Open on Key Biscayne helped raise Serena Williams, and vice versa. That symbiosis is the theme of my latest column. Click on Serena and the Miami Open to read it. 

End of the bracket for me: SliceMiami.com was down to its Final Four in the Media bracket and I made it, but lost in my semifinal to the 'Gotz Army of my 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio colleague, Stugotz. He's now in the Media final and crushing rival station WQAM's Marc Hochman. Oh my. Juggernaut.

McShay's mock picks for Dolphins, UM: ESPN's Todd McShay's mock draft 4.0 has Fins picking Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall and Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah in second round, 42nd overall. Only Miami Hurricane in the first two rounds: CB Artie Burns, 45th overall to Rams.

MARCH MADNESS: RUN IS DONE FOR HURRICANES; UM ELIMINATED IN SWEET 16: Miami was swamped 92-69 by Villanova in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Louisville. That's makes it three Canessweet16Sweet 16s for UM but still no Elite Eight. Sheldon McClellan did his part with 26 points tonight but got too little help. The story, though, was Miami not containing a really effective 'Nova attack. Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the field including 10-for-15 on 3's, plus 18 of 19 on free throws. Seems like they never missed. I'd foreseen it in my preview here, writing, "Mostly the matchup figures as how the Canes' defense fares in limiting 'Nova's big-time offense, which has averaged 82 points over the past month and has shot 58.6 percent so far in the NCAAs." Villanova, the nation's No. 1-ranked team for three weeks in February, was a four-point favorite and showed why. I liked Miami in an upset, but I guess that was homer parochial thinking. They needed another lights-out performance from guard Angel Rodriguez and didn't get it. Bottom line? Miami is not Elite yet, literally or figuratively. But Jim Larranaga is getting them closer. Progress. Overall a good season that did Miami proud. Agree? Take a dip in our poll.

NCAA Bracketeering, updated: Friday--My teams were 1-3, meaning 1-1 with teams still alive (North Carolina advanced) and two others previously eliminated. Overall--I'm 37-19 thus far in men's NCAA Tournament games. The bad news? I have only two teams still alive in the Elite Eight. The good news? They include Kansas, my pick to win it all. Cinderella Meter--28.6% (16 of 56 games have been upsets so far based on seeding). Today--I very much need Kansas to  beat Villanova. I have no dog left in the Oklahoma-Oregon hunt.

ON LEBRON'S 'DREAM TEAM,' STATE OF HEAT: 1) LeBron James said this week he would "take a pay cut" to play on the same team with close friends Dwyane Wade (once Lebrondreamingmore), Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Said James: "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP. I would actually take a pay cut to do that." Quick thought: Given the age and career arc of each, is 'Bron talking about an Old-Timers League? 2) The Heat's 112-88 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night was a reality check and a reminder of the distance between Miami and the best teams in the NBA. Here is another: Miami is now 4-9 this season against the five teams with clearly better records: Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Toronto. It's 2-1 vs. the Cavaliers, 2-8 vs. the other four.

Doral golf MiamiopenMIAMI OPEN TENNIS VS. WGC DORAL GOLF: The World Golf Championship event at Doral just ended, continuing the PGA Tour's 53-year run in South Florida. Now the Miami Open tennis tournament is underway on Key Biscayne -- Serena Williams won last evening in the first marquee match -- continuing that event's more than 30-year history in South Florida. But are prestigious tournaments right below being one of the sport's four majors. But both annual local sports institutions are in jeopardy. Doral could lose the greatest men's golfers in the world over politics, because the PGA Tour may distance itself from Donald Trump-owned properties. Key Biscayne could lose the best men's and women's tennis players in the world over legalities, related to a court case that will determine whether needed facility improvements are permitted. My question here: Which of these two major annual events is most important to you? I hope the answer for many of you is "both!" But which would you most hope stays where it is if you could choose only one? Take a dip in our poll and be heard!

JosePOLL RESULT: BRIGHTEST FUTURE? J'S HAVE IT AS JOSE, JUSTISE, JARVIS DOMINATE VOTE: We asked which of South Florida's 25-and-under sports stars has the brightest future, and gave you 14 choices and three votes. The clear overall top three in a tight race: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (21.9 percent), Heat forward Justise Winslow (20.3%) and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (19.2%). Jose is pictured tipping his cap to thank you for the vote. Rounding out the top five were Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker with 9.3% and Heat guard Josh Richardson at 8.7%, followed by the top-ranking Florida Panther, Sasha Barkov, with 7.7%. Popular poll. Thanks to all who weighed in.

BOSH'S NEW PUBLIC-SERVICE AD: Sidelined Heat star Chris Bosh is featured (along with Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon) in a new LeanIn.org video for its public-awareness campaign in support of gender equality. Here it is:

 

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

March 24, 2016

Which Miami 25-&-under sports star will have greatest career? Poll too close to call. Last chance to vote!; plus Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena's pitch for Miami Open, Melania Trump, Fins on the cheap, your Cuba-trip verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Garagiola1) It is THURSDAY, MARCH 24. Purim began at sundown last evening. Happy day to all our Jewish friends. 2) R.I.P. famed baseball broadcaster Joe Garagiola, pictured, at age 90. His was the first TV voice I heard when I was falling love with baseball as a kid. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Other side of the cheering on Cuba visit with poll, disrespecting Canes, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket update & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

"Rays beat Cuban National Team. Thank you, Tampa Bay, for denying the Castros the added propoganda." --Greg Cote

My latest 'Back In My Day': ICYMI on Tuesday's Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, here it is via ESPN Radio: Click Menus to listen and watch.

BrightfutureBRIGHT FUTURES: WHICH OF SOUTH FLORIDA'S 25-AND-UNDER PRO SPORTS STARS WILL HAVE THE GREATEST CAREER?: We made 25 the arbitrary line of demarcation here, and considered every current Heat, Dolphins, Marlins or Panthers player who was born in March 1991 or later. There were a lot, but we whittled it to a list of the 14 most prominent -- five Panthers and three from each of the other teams. Our poll list is alphabetical, and you may vote for your top three (3). It shouldn't be easy. For me, Jose Fernandez and Sasha Barkov were pretty easy, but the third was not. Jarvis Landry? Justise Winslow? Somebody else? Enough about me. Your turn. By the way, if you think anybody obvious is missing from the poll, I should mention as a preemptive strike that Giancarlo Stanton and Hassan Whiteside were born in 1989 and Ryan Tannehill in '88. They're still young, but too old for our 25U club. OK, ready? Remember, this is a brightest-future poll; try not to make it about which team or sport is your favorite. Vote now and check back frequently to monitor constantly evolving numbers. To decipher a three-vote ballot, triple the percentage of each player's total shown for an estimation of the percentage of ballots that include him in the top three. In other words, Winslow at 23.3 percent (when last I checked) was being included in about 70 percent of all top-threes.

Vote for your top 3:

UnisSWEET 16: NOT ALL AGREE THE HURRICANES ARE LOOKING GOOD: ESPN has one of those silly "Uni Watch" uniform rankings for the Sweet 16 teams, and the Miami Hurricanes's new Adidas duds are ranked only 14th. Ouch. The synopsis reads: "Green, orange and white are such a great color combination. Too bad they're used to such poor effect on the new March Madness uni set that Adidas prepared for the Hurricanes. It's hard to say which is worse -- the orange [or green] shoulder harness or the 'grass skirt' striping on the shorts. A real stinker." OK, then. A Thursday victory from Villanova away from their first Elite Eight appearance, we're thinking UM fans prefer their team continue to be athletically splendid even if its sartorial splendor may be somewhat dubious.

UH OH. IT'S COTE VS. STUGOTZ IN LOCAL MEDIA BRACKET'S FINAL FOUR: Website SliceMiami has been holding NCAA-style brackets in four 16-person "regions" including Media, and I -- the last Herald writer standing -- have vanquished two foes to reach the Final Four, where I will face my 790 The Ticket and ESPN Radio mate, the great Stugotz. The other semifinal will pit WQAM's Marc Hochman vs. his 560 stablemate Joe Rose. I think voting in the Final Four round is Thursday and Friday but we'll update you further.xx

SerenaSERENA STANDS UP ELOQUENTLY FOR THE MIAMI OPEN: We know Serena Williams is the best women's tennis player in the world, and has been for much of the past 15 years or so. She's a pretty good writer, too, it turns out. Williams this week penned a piece for the New York Times on why the Miami Open (running now through April 3 on Key Biscayne) is so dear to her and how she'd hate to see it leave, which it could related to a legal battle over improvements to the site. Good for you, Serena! Find her entire essay here.

DOLPHINS ON THE CHEAP: ESPN ranks all 32 teams in terms of current free-agent spending and your Dolphins slot in 22nd with only $11.9 million in guaranteed money given. Dough spent does Abdul-quddusnot always equate with winning, no, but it is a bit disconcerting that division-power New England has spent more than triple ($38.1 mill) what the Dolphins have to get better. ESPN's cynopsis of the Fins' FA expenditure so far: "For the first time in several years, the Dolphins elected to be judicious with their free-agent spending. They spent just $11.9 million in guaranteed money so far, with the biggest guarantee going to safety Isa Abdul-Quddus ($6 million). Big-ticket items haven't produced more victories, so Miami is trying the opposite approach." But just as spending big isn't always smart, being economical doesn't always mean smart spending. For example, Abdul-Quddus (pictured), the big get in terms of guaranteed money, has only 16 starts and two interceptions in 74 career NFL games. Hmm.

Poll result: Most oppose Obama and baseball's visit to Cuba: We asked your reaction and it was 25.3 percent "positive," 54.9% "negative" and 19.8% "mixed emotions or undecided." Interestingly, the negative vote was running only slightly higher (58.5%) in Florida, where a higher percentage of Cuban-Americans reside. Also interesting (at least to me): The "positive" vote enjoyed a plurality when the poll appeared only in my blog, before it hit a broader/different audience when picked up by MiamiHerald.com.

MelaniatrumpTHE MELANIA TRUMP AD: Nasty politics continue on the Republican side of the presidential race. A super-PAC supporting Ted Cruz ran the ad pictured, showing Donald Trump's wife Melania in a GQ photo shoot from 2000, back in her modeling days. The text reads, "Meet Melania Trump: Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz On Tuesday."  The Donald responded on Twitter with a warning for Cruz to be careful or he'll "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife. Me? I have little doubt that Trump is privately not displeased at all with this ad -- with people being reminded how great he must be to have a wife this hot. But here's the bottom line: Will seeing Melania like this make anyone less likely to vote for Donald Trump? For many people, absolutely nothing could possibly make them less likely to vote for Trump.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

March 22, 2016

America cheers Obama 'n baseball in Cuba, but in Miami, not everyone is celebrating. With poll. Vote!; plus Radio Tuesday, Wade not 1 of LeBron's issues, disrespect for Canes continues, Marlins on Jose, Serena's selfie, NCAA bracket & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 22. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, NCAA bracket update & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and also on ESPN U and Fusion TV.

LeBron has problems. D.Wade isn't one of them: Click on The Downward Trajectory of LeBron for today's latest column by me.

Media Bracket Round 2: I advanced in the Media Region of SliceMiami.com's first Miami Sports Bracket. To vote for, click here

National disrespect for Hurricanes continues: They were underdogs to Wichita State but reached the Sweet 16, anyway. Now the men of Jim Larranaga are 4- to 4 1/2-point underdogs to Villanova in Thursday night's game. And, among the last 16 standing, UM's 28-1 championship odds (via Bovada) are tied for 10th best. Odds to advance from South Region are: Kanasas 10-11, Villanova 12-5, UM 6-1 and Maryland 13-2.

CUBA CELEBRATES WITH OBAMA, BASEBALL AND MICK ... BUT NOT EVERYONE CELEBRATES: The president of the United States is on the island, bringing the ultimate seal of approval for warming relations with Cuba. America's Pastime visits, too: The Tampa Bay Rays play ball against the Cuban National Team in Havana on Tuesday. Later this week Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones put on a free concert there. It's a feel-good story. But it doesn't feel good to everybody. Miami is the epicenter in America of where it doesn't feel good at all to lots of folks who think the Cubaobama Ladiesinwhitewarming U.S-Cuba relations in general -- and this week's festivities in particular -- lend credence to what continues as totalitarian regime rife with oppression and human rights violations. There will be much cheering and celebration in Cuba this week, and elsewhere as Cuba basks in a portrayal of progress. But the other side must have its voice. In Miami, those voices make a mighty choir -- especially among older Cuban exiles who have seen with their own eyes, who escaped, and whose memories won't let go of the pain. Meet Cuban-born Luisa Vega, 69, now of Hallandale, a retired court interpreter. Thousands all over South Florida share her views. "The first day [Barack Obama's visit] was announced I was doing a deposition with some lawyers and one asked if I should be happy. But it is so painful to me this is happening," she told me on Monday. "We came here because we were forced to flee. People of Cuba are oppressed. I wish before any steps [toward normalized relations] had been taken, something had been done about the dissidents, about freedom of movement. There's so many things wrong with the system. Havana has deteriorated to the point it is a slum. Cuba became a third-world country." I, like most non-Cubans, cannot feel these views viscerally. I see this week's events in Cuba positively; I see Obama's visit an an agent for continued needed change. My own father grew up hating the Japanese because of Pearl Harbor but we move on. Germany once meant Hitler; now U.S.-German relations are good. For me, improved relations with Cuba are a good thing. But, again, the pain others still feel is not my own. Luisa Vegas fled Cuba three days before she turned 14. "It was so hellish I don't think I was ever young," she said. Her grandmother was incarcerated "just because we left." He future husband was taken at 17, and held for two weeks. Luisa remembers sleeping outside the original U.S. Embassy in Havana with a group of freedom-seekers and being screamed at by government-organized mobs. She saw militia storm her home and take away an uncle. Her story is shared by many in Miami. Today, there has been some progress in Cuba in the transition from Fidel Castro to younger brother Raul. By most indications, gays on the island have it somewhat better, as an example. Still, ask the Ladies in White, the group that protests for civil and human rights, if enough progress has been made. Dozens more of them were arrested (pictured right) in advance of Obama's visit. The watchdog group Human Rights Watch begins in 2015 report on Cuba thusly: "The government continues to rely on arbitrary detention to harass and intimidate individuals who exercise their fundamental rights." That, and the words and pain of Luisa Vega, bear never forgetting amid all the cheering in Cuba this week.

JOSE NOT OPENING DAY STARTER = MARLINS BEING MARLINS: Your ace starts on Opening Day, period. Particularly when your starting rotation includes one ace, a jack and three 4's. But the Joserules are never quite standard when it comes to the Miami Marlins, and so it should not have surprised Sunday when the Fish announced that recently acquired Wei-Yin Chen (the jack) would be the O.D. starter on April 5 instead, with Jose on the mound for next day. Hmm. The explantation: That the switch would set up to give Fernandez more rest thorughout the season. The likely real reason: Openers sell out, followed by a severe drop in attendance for Game 2 (at least here). So save Jose to stem the decline and increase the next-date gate. This is sooo Marlins. They can't even get Opening Day right. Jose says (publicly) he is on board with this, but you know he's disappointed. Marlins fans should be, too.

BikiniserenaSERENA PREPARES FOR MIAMI OPEN TENNIS: Defending Miami Open champion Serena Williams has been preparing for the rigors of the two-week tournament that begins this week on Key Biscayne. Pictured, is hard at work taking a bikini selfie on Snapchat. On beach or on court, Serena seldom is not looking good, or shy to show it. Still in her tennis prime at 34. A true wonder.

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Sunday--I went 5-3 on my teams advancing in men's NCAA Tournament games. Overall--I'm 35-13 thus far, with 12 teams still alive in the Sweet 16. Cinderella Meter--33.3% (16 of 48 games have been by-seed upsets so far). Today--Madness is off until Thursday.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

March 21, 2016

Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Angelic Canes, Heat, Cats, tennis, Fins and Fish lead the way; plus our NCAA bracket (updated) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, MARCH 21. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida's Super Sports Saturday, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner, my NCAA bracket, Cote advances in media bracket, your who'll-win verdict & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now newly on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES/COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Sweet! UM men beat Wichita State, reach the 16: Miami Hurricanes men beat Wichita State 65-57 Saturday to reach the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, led by Angel Rodriguez's 28 points. "Heaven-sent Angel lifts Miami" -- too perfect. Canes will next face Sunday-winner Villanova on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. So your bracket is in ruins, but at least the Canes are winning.

2. HEAT: Miami routs Cavaliers, humbles LeBron to stay in hunt for third place: LeBron James now is 0-3 in Miami since leaving after the Heat's 122-101 rout of Cleveland on Saturday. LeBron returning to Miami is still a big deal, sort of. But here’s a bigger deal: The Heat is in a four-team scramble to finish third in the East and avoid seeing LeBron again until the conference finals.

3. PANTHERS: Cats stay in NHL division despite Spacey loss to Red Wings: Florida has clawed back up into the division lead despite Saturday's 5-3 home loss to Detroit. The game featured a visit by actor Kevin Spacey, who inspires the “Spacey in Space” sweatshirts that inexplicably are part of the mojo of this Cats season. The sweatshirts bring luck, although apparently Spacey himself doesn't.

4. TENNIS: Federer, Serena in spotlight as Miami Open tennis sets to launch: Perennial favorite Serena Williams, defending champ Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer’s return from knee surgery top the marquee for Miami Open tennis, which begins its annual two-week run on Key Biscayne this Tuesday. Event’s future is in some doubt, so treat the present like a gift.

5. DOLPHINS: Mixed results, disappointments continue team’s free agency run: Bumper sticker: Honk If You’ve Left the Dolphins Facility Without Signing a Contract. Running backs C.J. Anderson and Chris Johnson were the latest to do so as Miami’s first week-plus of free agency resulted in much activity but little discernible improvement.

6. BASEBALL: MLB visit to Cuba, LaRoche saga steal the headlines: Adam LaRoche of the Chicago White Sox abruptly retires after team tells him his 14-year-old son shouldn't be in the clubhouse so much. This Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays play the Cuban National Team in Havana. Man, baseball will do anything for attention, won't it!?

7. MARLINS: Shenanigans with the Opening Day starter: Barry Bonds, 51, out-homered Giancarlo Stanton in a friendly hitting drill. But the big news out of Marlins spring training was the team not naming ace Jose Fernandez its Opening Day starter on April 5. Ostensibly it's to give him more rest but more like it's that, with a big crowd guaranteed for the opener, the club wants to deploy Jose to help boost the gate for Game 2. Gawd, that is soooo Marlins.

8. UM/WOMEN'S NCAA: Canes make a quick exit: The Madness started and ended quickly for coach Katie Meier's women Canes, with Saturday's 74-71 upset loss to South Dakota State in their NCAA Tournament opener. Humbling: Losing your opener. Insult to injury: Losing to team nicknamed Jackrabbits.

9. NFL: Boca Raton hosts league meetings: A league executive, Jeff Miller, became first NFL official to acknowledge a direct link between football-related head trauma and brain disease. Meanwhile the NFL owners meetings are Sunday through Wednesday in Boca. Haven't seen the complete agenda but I understand the main order of business is a resolution to make Jeff Miller quit speaking.

10. UM FOOTBALL: Canes open first spring practices under Richt: The Hurricanes began spring practice with enthusiasm and praise for Mark Richt. Shocking! It was the 89,403rd consecutive time in the history of football that players praised their new head coach after his first practice. 

Missing the cut: R.I.P., Tray Walker ... Barry men reach Elite Eight in Division II. Good job, Barry ... Its Miami FC in its inaugural NASL game next Saturday at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. A natural rivalry is born! ... So a jury awards Hulk Hogan $115 million because Gawker published his sex tape -- more than double what Erin Andrews received. Pays to be a cartoon character, I guess ... This just in. Looking to place people where no one will find them, the federal witness protection program has now begun hiding people in the NIT tournament ... Gall, redefined: FIFA wants back its bribe money confiscated by the U.S. government. No, seriously ... Answer: Ultra Music Festival. Question: "Where do 99.9 percent of South Floridians want to be nowhere near this weekend?" ... Barack Obama's presidential bracket had Kansas winning the men's NCAA Tournament. Republicans demanding equal time berated Kansas as overrated ... Without being able to  vent on Twitter anymore, what's Miko Grimes doing, kicking the family dog? ... IndyCar season is underway. Wake me for the Indianapolis 500 ... The Colts are building a statue of Peyton Manning. You know who else should? The city of "Omaha!" ... What's poor FIU gotta do to get another mention here? Any more scandals on deck?

NCAA BRACKETEERING UPDATE: Sunday--I went 5-3 on my teams advancing in men's NCAA Tournament games. Overall--I'm 35-13 thus far. Cinderella Meter--33.3% (16 of 48 games have been by-seed upsets so far). Today--Madness is off until Thursday.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

January 05, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter (season final): 18.1%; plus Tannehill leads Miami past Patriots 20-10; also, Radio Tuesday!, Fins' 2016 schedule, '15's biggest-Miami-sports-story verdict, latest Hot Button & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 5. Yes, you can still say Happy New Year! You get one full week. 2) Click on Week 17 Gems for all of yesterday's Dolphins/NFL picks. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami/South Florida sports story-of-the-year poll, Dolphins/NFL Week 17 picks, sports predictions for 2016 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and also televising on ESPNU and Fusion TV.

My Dolphins coach-search column, Fins' 2016 schedule: Click on No Training Wheels This Time for my latest column, suggesting the club try something different and hire a head coach who has done the job before in the NFL. Also. Miami's 2016 non-division games were made known yesterday. At home it'll be the Browns, Steelers, Titans, Cardinals and 49ers. Non-division roadies will be Ravens, Bengals, Chargers, Rams and Seahawks.

Live in-game blog and postgame thoughts: Find both beneath the new and final Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll of the season. Click Tannehill the Solution -- With the Right Coach, for my column from the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 18.1%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-ending -- Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 18.1 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-10 home victory over New DsmEngland putting Miami's final season record at 6-10. The DSM, completing its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, we suggested giving "season as a whole" added weight. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case we left the poll open a bit longer than usual and closed it at around 2:15 p.m. today/Tuesday.

2015 DSM Results

Game 1: 31.0% (following 17-10 victory at Washington)

Game 2: 1.7% (following 23-20 loss at Jacksonville)

Game 3: 18.0% (following 41-14 loss vs. Buffalo)

Game 4: 2.7% (following 27-14 loss vs. N.Y Jets in London)

Game 5: 92.0% (following 38-10 victory at Tennessee)

Game 6: 96.1% (following 44-26 victory vs. Houston)

Game 7: 32.4% (following 36-7 loss at New England)

Game 8: 4.8% (following 33-17 loss at  Buffalo)

Game 9: 44.6% (following 20-19 victory at Philadelphia)

Game 10: 3.8% (following 24-14 loss vs. Dallas)

Game 11: 3.7% (following 38-20 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Game 12: 17.3% (following 15-13 victory vs. Baltimore)

Game 13: 6.2% (following 31-24 loss  to N.Y. Giants)

Game 14: 5.4% (following 30-14 loss at San Diego)

Game 15: 6.0% (following 18-12 loss vs. Indianapolis)

Game 16/Season Final: 18.1% (following 20-10 victory vs. New England)

Yearly DSM Results

2015--18.1% (following 6-10 season); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

G17: NEW ENGLAND @ DOLPHINS: HOUSE-CLEANING FINS BEAT NEMESIS IN FINALE: Final: Tannehill 350 yards and two TDs and big defense carried Miami. The unexpected win cost Dolphins a few spots in the draft order, but cheering fans didn't seem to mind. Click on Tannehill the Solution -- With the Right Coach, for my column from the game. ..... Fourth Q: Miami 19-yard late FG makes the final score, 20-1 win. ..... Tannehill-Jordan Cameron 2-yard TD pass for a 17-10 Miami lead. A 46-yard strike to Parker fueled the series. ..... Third Q: Tannehill surpasses 4,000 passing yards for second straight season, first Dolphin to do that since Dan Marino went 4K X 3 in 1984-86. ... NE ties it 10-10. Brady comes out passing as we'd predicted, completes 68-yarder to James White to set up 3-yard TD run by the exhumed Steven Jackson. ..... Halftime: Are we seeing early signs of dementia in Bill Belichick? Last week he gave the other team the ball to begin overtime. Now he has Tom Brady throws five passes for 20 yards through the air in the first half at Miami. What? Huh? Expect a lot more Brady from here, presuming the Pats have an interest in winning. ..... Second Q: MIA 10-3 on Tannehill 15-yard TD strike to Devante Parker, after an earlier 31-yard completion to Greg Jennings. ... NE fails to take lead, misses 46-yard FG try. ... NE 3-3 on 34-yard FG. ... Andrew Franks' failed 46-yard FG try had the knuckling trajectory of a poorly struck 3-iron. ... First Q: Pats' first two possessions: 9 plays, 27 yards, 2 punts. ... Miami 3-0 on 38-yard FG in series fueled by Lamar Miller's 29-yard run. ... Swap of punts begins game. For Miami, a stalemate almost feels like a positive. ... As a seventh consecutive Dolphins season prepares to end too soon. ..... Pregame: Stadium filling up in a way that suggests a big crowd today, but that's largely because so many Patriots fans are here. Seeing as many 'Brady' jerseys as those of any other player on either team. ..... Original post: When you dump the head coach and both coordinators within one season you are running out of people to fire. But not quite! Yesterday the Dolphins "parted ways" with general manager Dennis Hickey, unsurprisingly, since he'd been rendered a glorified assistant by the arrival and takeover of personnel boss Mike Tannenbaum. Anyway, the 5-10 Fins host the 12-3 Patriots this afternoon, with Miami skidding to a halt at 4-7 under interim coach Dan Campbell. Ryan Tannehill enters Miami’s season finale banged up after being sacked six times last Patsfinsweek and then again during the week on that vicious blindside hit by Miko Grimes. The Patriots figure to offer little respite Sunday, their 48 sacks ranking second in the NFL. Too bad for the Fins this game means something for New England and, therefore, guys like Tom Brady won’t have the day off. Pats have sewn up a first-round bye but need to beat Miami (or hope for an unlikely Denver loss) to clinch the home field throughout. Pats are 2-3 since a 10-0 start, have lost their past two visits to Miami and might be quite vulnerable for an upset here. I won’t go that far. Brady is still Brady, and he still has Rob Gronkowski. Even if it’s just those two and nine bandaged mummies, that’s still a better offense than Miami usually shows. But I do see a much better game than Miami’s 36-7 collapse up there on Oct. 29. See this one close, in fact. That reminds me. Aside to Bill Belichick: If this one happens to go into overtime and you win the coin toss like last week, take the ball this time, dummy. My pick: New England, 27-20.

Poll result: UM firing Golden, hiring Richt named top Miami/South Florida sports story of 2015: We listed our Top 10 local stories of the past year, invited your vote on which was biggest, and the winner was UM firing Al Golden and hiring Mark Richt with 33.0 percent. Rounding out top five: Dolphins firing Joe Philbin amid seventh straight non-playoff season, 21.0%; Ndamukong Suh signing with Fins, 13.7%; Heat acquiring Goran Dragic, losing Chris Bosh to blood clots and missing playoffs, 8.1%; and Marlins' Dee Gordon becoming first since Jackie Robinson to lead NL in hitting and stolen bases, 6.0%.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JAN. 3): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

1. PANTHERS: Jagr leads the hottest team on ice: Jaromir Jagr, 43, made the all-star team by leading the Atlantic division in fan voting as the go-Cats-go entered the new year the talk of the NHL. Florida last night won a franchise-record eighth straight game and 14th in the past 17 to roar onto playoff pace. And general manager Dale Tallon and coach Gerard Gallant found the reward of contract extensions in their Christmas stockings.

Hotbutton2. CFP: Clemson wins Orange, to meet Alabama for national championship: Clemson dominated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and Alabama beat Michigan State even worse in the Cotton to reach the Jan. 11 College Football Playoff title game in Glendale, Ariz. title. Crimson Tide are an opening 6 1/2-point favorite despite the collective will of Miami football fans to see Nick Saban sad.

3. HEAT: Whiteside opens the new year right: Hassan Whiteside had season-highs of 25 points and 19 rebounds as the Heat won its first game of 2016 by a season-best 24-point margin over Dallas. Good: Miami stays in thick of a tightly bunched East playoff race. Better: Seeing Mark Cuban sad.

4. DOLPHINS: Fins host Patriots Sunday in season finale: Club "parted ways" with GM Dennis Hickey on Saturday; now Fins host New England in season finale. Pats' big sackers may pose a problem for Ryan Tannheill. The banged-up QB was sacked six times last week -- seven if you include the blindside Twitter hit by Miko Grimes. 

5. NFL: Sunday wraps the regular season, sets playoff field: The regular season wraps up with all 16 games being played Sunday, after which the first round of the playoffs will be set. The "playoffs." I wonder. Do younger Dolphins fans even know what that word means?

6. HURRICANES: UM hires defensive coordinator as Richt staff takes shape: So long, Mark D'onofrio. Miami's new defensive chief is Miami native Manny Diaz Jr., son of the former mayor, who held same job at Mississippi State. I don't wanna say Canes fans are tough but some already are calling for Diaz's firing. 

7. BOWLS: State's Big 3 bowled over, a rarity: This college football season marked only the second time ever (first was 2002) that the Hurricanes, Seminoles and Gators all ended their season with bowl losses.

8. UM HOOPS: Both Canes teams ranked as ACC play begins: UM's men beat Syracuse here in their ACC basketball opener Saturday. The Canes' men and women's teams are a combined 25-2 today, both ranked and thinking NCAA Tournament. And what were the odds that South Florida's sports excitement entering the new year would be centered on college basketball and hockey?

9. TENNIS: Miami Open, Miami-Dade at odds: Officials of the Miami Open major pro tennis tournament, the annual fixture on Key Biscayne, are threatening to move the event because the county, which owns the facility, won't OK expansion. Hey here's a wild thought: Compromise!

10. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream host big stakes races: Gulfstream held two stakes races Saturday that were an early prelude to the May 7 Kentucky Derby. But do we still care about horse racing with the end of the Triple Crown drought no longer the carrot before our nose?

Missing the cut: Happy new year! Happy, mostly, because we're done with the media's annoying year-end lists ... Jarvis Landry, Reshad Jones share Dolphins MVP award. That Ryan Tannehill or Ndamukong Suh didn't win says much about why Miami is 5-10 and looking for a new coach ... R.I.P., famous Harlem Gloebtrotter Meadowlark Lemon, 83. "Too bad," said Cleo Lemon. "There aren't many of us around." "Do I count?" said deceased actor Jack Lemmon ... UM cornerback Artie Burns is skipping his senior season for the draft. Call it Mark Richt's first loss as Canes coach ... Peyton Manning continues to deny a now-discredited report by Al Jazeera that he used human growth hormone. I'm not sure who Al is, but I think he owes Peyton an apology ... Junior Orange Bowl golf ended. I think I saw the winner use a toe wedge ... CFP semifinal TV ratings nosedived thanks to airing the games on New Year's Eve. "Bad Ideas In Programming" has a new clubhouse leader ... Want a good idea? NHL's annual outdoor Winter Classic ... Dear Marlins: Spring training is getting close. Either figure out a way to clone Jose Fernandez, or sign more starting pitchers, please.

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

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December 31, 2015

It's Clemson-'Bama! Tigers win big, Tide rolls. My postgame thoughts, Orange Bowl game column; plus here are 2015's Top 10 national sports stories. What was biggest? Poll. Vote now!; also, Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, all. Make it a safe one. Lots of amateur drinkers out tonight. 2) Panthers have won seven straight hockey games. ICYMI, click on Surging Cats for my recent column. 3) Brent Grimes' "apology" for his wife slamming Ryan Tannehill was pretty tepid. And still no apology from Miko. 4) IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Open letter to Miko Grimes, hot Panthers relevant again, NFL pix 'n Greg's Lobos Week 16 results & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Landry, Jones share Dolphins MVP award: Receiver/returner Jarvis Landry and strong safety Reshad Jones split Dolphins' MVP award announced today. Hate ties, but both are legit choices. That neither Ryan Tannehill nor Ndamukong Suh won says much about why Miami is 5-10 and looking for a new coach.

Orangebowl ClemsonoklahomaORANGE BOWL/CFP SEMIFINAL: CLEMSON 37, OKLAHOMA 17 (Final): Clemson proved it had no business being the betting underdog in this College Football Playoff semifinal, winning all over the field in a 37-17 domination of favored Oklahoma. The Tigers won where it gets physical, rushing for 312 yards and limiting OU to 67. The Sooners averaged 52 points its previous seven games but was shut out in the second half Thursday. Clemson impressed more than Oklahoma disappointed on this New year's Eve. Click on Clemson Turns Disrespect Into Orange Storm for my column from the stadium on tonight's game. ..... Original post: To the sport, it's a College Football Playoff semifinal in the new era's second year. To Miami, it's the 82nd Orange Bowl, the continuation of a tradition conceived in the 1930s to draw attention and boost tourism. To the No. 1 Clemson Tigers and No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners, it's the win they need to reach the Jan. 11 championship game in Glandale, Ariz., vs. tonight's Alabama-Michigan State Cotton Bowl winner. Click on Miami Sets the Stage for my column previewing the game. Expect fireworks from two quarterbacks who combined for 65 touchdown passes this season. Clemson, though unbeaten and top-ranked, is a betting underdog; the buzz is that Oklahoma is right-now better. I don't buy it. My pick: Clemson 34-31.

2015YOU PICK THE 2015 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: Welcome to our annual year-ending blog vote. The top 10 stories in our poll are not mine; they are from The Associated Press official annual ranking for the calendar year. I list them alphabetically, not in order, so as not to prejudice the jury. I want this to be your independent vote and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, figuring that if the ballot phrase alone is not sufficient, chances are the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back to monitor evolving results. And remember, this is a national list, so please consider your vote in that broad context. We'll ask your vote on the top 10 Greater Miami/South Florida sports stories of 2015 in the coming days. For now, let's go nationwide. Ready? Go!

Vote for the top three (3) biggest stories:

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

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December 12, 2015

What is your faith in Ryan Tannehill? Poll. Vote now!; plus the strength of Serena, PGA Tour may leave Doral over Trump, NFL Week 14 picks, verdict on Heat at quarter mark & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12. IThe Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat at quarter-mark poll, Marlins and Fernandez, Trump's hate-mongering, NFL Pix 'n Greg's Lobos fantasy Week 13 results & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Golden Dolphins: Miami introduced its all-time 50 greatest players last evening during a gala at the Diplomat in Hollywood. I was there and will have a column online later today and in Sunday's paper.

AS A FRANCHISE CELEBRATES ITS PAST, DOLFANS STILL WONDER ABOUT THE FUTURE -- ESPECIALLY THAT OF TANNEHILL: The preceding headline is my suppposition, and here is why: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said six words yesterday that I thought spoke volumes. He had been asked whether he wanted to throw more passes than his 19 in last week's game and Tannehillhe said it didn't matter, explaining, "I’m in the business of winning." He is, indeed. So when is it going to start? The question is fair to ask this week — almost unavoidable, in fact — as the 50 greatest players in Miami's franchise history are in town to be honored at halftime of Monday night’s game vs. the Giants in a ceremony marking the club’s 50th season. Two of those greatest players, of course, are named Dan Marino and Bob Griese. So we are reminded of better days and better players, almost all of them in the past. It isn’t that anyone expects Tannehill to be a Hall of Famer. But it is fair, I think, to say we expected more of the No. 1 draft pick by now than a four-year record of 7-9, 8-8, 8-8, 5-7 and no playoff appearances. The mediocrity isn't all on Tannehill, for sure. But he has not demonstrated the ability special QBs have to lift and lead, to win because of them and despite surrounding talent. Has Tannehill taken a step forward this season? "I don’t know," he answered. Does he think 2016 will be his breakout season? "I hope so," he said. He called this "a crazy year for us for a lot of different reasons." Yes. When the in-season tumult includes the head coach being fired and later the offensive coordinator, too, that’s crazy. The thing is, both moves are due in part to the quarterback underperforming. As the Dolphins and Dolfans rightly celebrate their past, the frustration of the present isn’t just a likely seventh consecutive season out of the playoffs. It is that we still aren’t sure what we have at the most important position. We still aren’t sure if Tannehill is the franchise quarterback who will lead Miami to new glory days. And the fact we are still asking and wondering four years in may itself be the answer. Now, your turn. What is your degree of faith that Tannehill is or will be as good as the Dolphins need him to be? We asked this same question Oct. 15. I'll be interested to compare results two months later and see how Tannehill is trending. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY: DOLPHINS/NFL WEEK 14 PICKS: We got off to a split start to our week last night. Hit on the Cardinals winning but thought they'd cover, too; they didn't. Click on Week 14 Gems for all of our remaining latest picks and full prediction capsules. Highlights: Dolphins get huge home win over Giants in a mild upset Monday night; Ben Roethlisberger's Steelers surprise Cincinnati in Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"); and Patriots avoid their first three-game losing streak in 13 seasons. Also, click on Judging Tannehill Amid Golden Hoopla for my latest weekly Friday Page NFL notes column (more above), leading with Dolfans still wondering if QB Ryan Tannehill is the future as they celebrate the club's past.

DonaldPGA TOUR MAY LEAVE DORAL AFTER '16; PETITION TARGETS TRUMP AT DORAL: Update: The PGA Tour said today it will explore moving its WGC event from Doral after the '16 tournament this coming March. If so -- and it seems likely -- that would end a 53-year relationship between the Tour and Doral. ... Original post: A Care2 petition is asking the PGA Tour to cancel or move its World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship event scheduled for March 3-6 at Trump National Doral because of Donald Trump's controversial call for a sweeping ban on Muslims entering the U.S. The petition had gathered more than 33,000 supporters as of this morning; click on thepetitionsite.com to view. (Earlier this year Trump's controversial comments about Mexicans also called into question whether the PGA Tour should be doing business with Trump and his golf courses). The Tour is in a tough spot, put there by Trump himself, who has gone from flashy tournament host to outspoken, polarizing presidential candidate. I doubt very much this petition will move the PGA Tour or cause it to leave Doral, at least not now. But chances are good the Doral event in March will be as much a political circus as it is a golf tournament this year, with players asked about Trump's politics and perhaps protests. That's good for me, for Your Friend the Media. I'm not sure it's good for golf.

SerenaSTRENGTH OF SERENA: You wonder why Serena Williams dominates women's tennis? Catch her photo, pictured, taken for the 2016 Pirelli calendar.

Poll result: More think Heat is worse than expected than better: We asked how you thought the Heat were doing relative to expectations at the NBA season's quarter mark, and 58.8 percent said about as expected. However, "worse" than expected drubbed "better" by 34.3% to 6.9%.

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September 14, 2015

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 31.0%; plus Radio Tuesday, Dolphins beat Redskins 17-10, Fins on Forbes $$ list, Dee Gordon honored, new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), farewell Sunday notes column & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 790 The Ticket and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. Good morning!

1) It is TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15. Click on Random Evidence for the farewell edition of our Sunday notes column. See the bottom of this blogpost for an explainer. 2) Click on Howard's Night, Al's Burden for my column from Boca Raton on Friday's 44-20 Canes win. And see previous blogpost for first Canesfan Satisfaction Meter results. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): UM wins at FAU, CSM poll, Upset Bird Day in America, LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Marlins' Gordon honored, twice: Marlins 2B Dee Gordon received two nice award nominations today: For the Robert Clemente Award for sportsmanship, and for the MLBPA Marvin Miller Award. He's also still fighting (currently down seven points) for the NL batting title.

Dolphins mid-pack on franchise value list: Forbes' latest list has Dolphins as NFL's 16th-most valuable franchise at $1.85 billion. Click Money List for full rankings. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G1: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 31.0 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's season-opening 17-10 Dolphins 1aa1adsmvictory at Washington. The DSM, in its eighth year, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Yearly DSM results:

2014: 2.7% (following 8-8 season)

2013: 4.2% (following 8-8 season)

2012: 29.8% (following 7-9 season)

2011: 34.9% (following 6-10 season)

2010: 3.8% (following 7-9 season)

2009: 31.2% (following 7-9 season)

2008: 96.9% (following 11-5 season/playoff loss)

G1: DOLPHINS 17, WASHINGTON 10 (Final): SEASON OF (FAIRLY) GREAT EXPECTATIONS BEGINS WITH ROAD WIN: Final: Miami christens its 50th season right with 17-10 win at Washington. Reminded me a little of UM beating FAU the other night. Shaky early, but the better team emerging. Dolphins offense wasn't great today and defense was less than perfect against the run. But! Two interceptions by Miami's defense and a huge 69-yard punt-return score by Jarvis Landry made the difference. ..... Fourth Q: Miami stops a Skins 4th-and-7 from MIA 20. Fins in charge. ... Huge! McCain INT at Fins 2 denies a Skins threat. ... MIA with its first lead at 17-10 on Landry's 69-yard TD return of a punt. Money! ... Dolphins tie it 10-10 on Franks' short FG, but you gotta go into end zone on 4th and goal! MIA squanders red-zone chance to take lead. ... Third Q: Scoreless third, but Fins on the move. ... Oy! LT Albert injured, but walks off field on own, a good sign. ... Ugh. Tanny stripped of ball and loses fumble on half's opening series. ..... Dolfans Halftime: Dolfans should feel lucky to only be down 10-7. No cause for panic, but Fins must shore up their run defense in second half. ..... Second Q: Finally! Life for Fins! MIA within 10-7 on Tanny's 3y TD toss to Matthews just before half. ... Tanny misses a wide-open Stills. Hasn't been as accurate yet today as in preseason. ... Dolphins down 10-0 as defense beat up for 17-yard drive. Reed 3y TD catch over a fallen Jones ends series. ... Miami wastes the Grimes INT, denied on 4th-and-1 from Skins 12. Ballsy call; gave up an near-certain tying FG. ... TE Sims out injured trying to catch an end-zone overthrow by Tannehill. ... Grimes interception! MIA at WAS 21. ..... First Q: Olivier Vernon ankle injury; iffy return. ... Fins offense on field for only 5 plays in first quarter. Ugh. ... MIA catches small break in final seconds when Skins go wide right on 46y FG try. ... Fins fail to convert a 3rd-and-1. Not the opening quarter of Dolfans' dreams. ... Miami down 3-0 early is no worry. But the early run-defense is. ..... Pregame: I love that Your Friend The Media is making such a deal of Jarvis Landry and LaMike James having a minor shove-exchange four days ago. Zero bearing on what happens today. ..... Original post: As the Dolphins launch their 50th franchise season we bring you true math, NFL style: One season of unusually high hopes + one a bad opponent = one opener Miami really needs to win. The air would seep 1aa1adolredout of Dolfans' optimism like it does footballs on the Patriots sideline, only moreso, if Miami somehow falls flat today in Landover, Md. I doubt that happens. I'm sold on these Dolphins as a playoff team. Ryan Tannehill's multi-weaponed offense should not have a problem motoring and flying all over the field today, and the Ndamukong Suh-infused 1aa1adolredqbsdefense should make it a daytime nightmare for Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. (Tannehill and Cousins are pictured left). See it as a comfy win, maybe even a rout. This isn't Bethune-Cookman to the Hurricanes as season openers go, but if there were gimmies in the NFL, Washington would be close to one. Now let's quantify why winning one's season opener is so important. Quick history lesson: Super Bowl winners were 39-9-1 on opening day. Since the advent of the 16-game season in 1978, teams that started 1-0 made the playoffs 52.2 percent of the time, versus 23.9% for teams that began 0-1. Similar trends for Miami. Dolphins at 1-0 have made the playoffs 16 of 26 times (61.5%), versus 5 of 22 times (22.7%) at 0-1. That excludes one season-opening tie, in 1971. Join us back here during the game for a live running commentary.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins open 50th season right at Washington: Miami’s season of unusually high hopes and uncommonly buoyant fan optimism opened Sunday with a 17-10 win over a Redskins team seen as not very good. We’ve seen the Dolphins live down to expectations a lot since their last playoff win in 2000. Now we see if they can live up to expectations for a change.

2. HURRICANES: UM surges late past FAU, awaits visit by Nebraska: Canes rallied from a second-half tie to win at FAU 44-20 in Howard Bowl II, leaving many fans displeased. Miami is 2-0, albeit vs. Bethune-Cookman and the Owls. UM's real season starts this coming Saturday at home vs. Nebraska. This is when Al Golden turns down the heat a little, or starts to feel it singe.

3. NFL: Win by Patriots (fittingly) opens King Sport's season: Patriots and Tom Brady won the last game in 2014 and the first in '15, with Deflategate talk book-ending both games but evidently not bothering either. Now we booked the first Sunday of the regular season -- a de facto national holiday in America. By the way, Roger Goodell came out of hiding in Chicago.

4. TENNIS: U.S. Opens ends without a Grand Slam by Serena: Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer for men's title Sunday, but the women's side was the talk of the U.S. Open. Serena Williams fell short of sport's first calendar Grand Slam since 1988, but another great story took its place as little-known Italian Flavia Pennetta, 33, won the Open and then retired, redefining "going out on top."

5. MARLINS: Jose's back, but it isn't looking good for Giancarlo: Jose Fernandez won Saturday in his return and is now 16-0 in his career at Marlins Park. With this team though, the news is never all good. As Fish wrapped up homestand Sunday and now hit the road relegated to playing spoilers in a spoiled season, it's looking more and more like we won’t see Giancarlo Stanton again until Opening Day 2016.

6. HEAT: Riley really liking Heat roster as training camp nears: As Miami prepares to open its preseason training camp on Sept. 29, club prez Pat Riley said this week he thinks the Heat has "all the elements of a championship team." Hmm. That would be somewhat of a surprise to Las Vegas oddsmakers, who list Miami as the NBA’s ninth favorite at 40-1.

7. FIU: Hopes for second straight road upset wither in Indiana: After winning at Central Florida to open the season, FIU fell Saturday at Indiana 36-22. Glass half-full: Well, unbeaten for a week is better than not unbeaten for a week.

8. PANTHERS: NHL club to open training camp, exhibition play: Hockey's about back. The Panthers open training camp this Thursday and then play their first exhibition game next Sunday. This season, players swear, they'll make the playoffs. One of these years, by dumb luck, they may be right.

9. LEBRON JAMES: He's back in Miami. Temporarily: LeBron is Miami with several Cavaliers teammates this week for pre-training camp workouts. Heat fans aren’t sure whether to chase LeBron outta town with torches and pitchforks, or kidnap him and beg him to stay.

10. BOXING: Mayweather wins final (?) fight: Miamian Andre Berto lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Mayweather says it was his last fight. The national group, People Who Believe Him, meets tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.

Missing the HB10 cut: Alex Rodriguez ties Hank Aaron with 15th 30-homer season. A-Rod’s steroids-free comeback year has been a marvel. The downside: Much tougher for me to make fun of him. ... R.I.P., Moses Malone. ... Speculation on the Marlins’ next manager heats up. The front-runner: Anybody but Dan Jennings. ... NBA will henceforth seed playoff teams by their records, not by division finish. The NFL would do that, too, but it makes too much sense. ... NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup begins next Sunday in Chicago, a nine-race tournament leading to the Nov. 22 championship race here. This is 14th year we’ve hosted the grand finale, and I still can’t believe they have it in Homestead. It’s like the NFL putting a Super Bowl in Fargo, North Dakota. ... Just read about something called a trumpetfish. My first reaction? Donald Trump bought a species and named it after himself. ... Reds had a Pete Rose Bobblehead Night on Saturday. The Rose figurine bobbles its head and then places 100 large in the fifth race.

FAREWELL, RANDOM EVIDENCE: Random Evidence, my long-running, fun-seeking Sunday notes column after which this blog was named, ends with today's column (link above). That's because the Herald prefers I instead write a general sports column on Sundays moving forward to coincide with a dramatic redesign that will debut with this Wednesday's newspaper. Part of the notes column still will run on Sundays in print: Our weekly Top 5 list. Many of the other notes I once saved for Sundays I'll now write throughout the week on Twitter or in this blog, so rest assured our followers @gregcote and our blog family won't miss a thing. My innate need to poke gentle fun at Jeffrey Loria and others will not be denied! Meanwhile we'll continue to have the Hot Button Top 10 every Sunday in the blog (sort of our Top 5 list on steroids), and Sunday's Hot List from the paper will become a blog feature starting next week. You got all that!?

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 10, 2015

LeBatard Show fantasy-draft results. Who picked the best team? New poll. Vote now!; plus Patriots-Steelers pick, Upset Bird Countdown (1 day), new 'Weighing The Fish,' verdict on Serena & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. Today I research and write the season-debut of the Friday NFL predictions page. Pray for me. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Serena Williams G.O.A.T. poll, Howard Schnellenberger what-if, Breakfast with LeBatard, Riley speaks, debut of SOPY rankings, Marlins '16 home schedule, Stephen Colbert, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Patriots-Steelers pick: One day ahead of our Friday Page launch, today we offer our pick on tonight's Steelers-at-Patriots NFL season opener. Click on Kicking It Off for the full predix capsule. 

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 1 DAY: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions in 1aa1afripix

1aa1acardsstl 1aa1a1the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11 -- tomorrow -- and we've been doing a 10-day countdown. This year's theme: Bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. And today, at No. 1: St. Louis Cardinals, born 1900! [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51; #4--Philadelphia Eagles/'33; #3--Chicago Blackhawks/'26; #2--Arizona Cardinals/'20].

LEBATARD RADIO SHOW FANTASY DRAFT: WHO PICKED THE BEST TEAM?: We did a similar blind poll a few weeks ago after my family-league fantasy draft, and you all voted my team, Greg's Lobos, No. 1. 1aa1adanshow 1aa1adanshowdraftWill I be as lucky again here? This blind vote involves the 10-team LeBatard radio show fantasy draft that took place online yesterday. After the vote we'll tell you who's with what team and thus who you voted best to worst. League members are LeBatard, Stugotz, Mike Ryan, me, Allyson, Charlie, Roy, Billy, Chris and Papi. That of course is not the order of teams in the poll. Teams are listed by draft order in a standard PPR league. Vote for who made the most of his or her first four picks -- which team you'd most want based on the names you see.

1aa1afishweighWEIGHING THE FISH (140 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year we debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 140 games (at 59-81):


Rank Player                   WTF#  @130

1  Dee Gordon                  462.6    1

2  Adeiny Hechevarria   366.5   3

3  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

4  Martin Prado              345.9    4

5  Christian Yelich         323.2   5

6  Jacob Realmuto         315.0   6

7  Justin Bour                 302.1    8

8  Marcell Ozuna            292.2   7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              239.3   9

10  Derek Dietrich          212.2   10

11  Cole Gillespie            150.7   11

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 5.

Poll result: Strong support for Serena as G.O.A.T.: We asked if you think Serena Williams is the greatest of all-time in women's tennis, and 61.2 percent said yes while another 15.9% said not yet but headed there. The remaining 22.9% said no.

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

September 09, 2015

Serena Williams is the G.O.A.T. Isn't she? New poll. Vote now!; plus Upset Bird Countdown (2 days), Stephen Colbert, playing what-if with Schellenberger, Marlins 2016 home schedule, Riley on Heat, LeBatard to a.m., SOPY Week 1 rankings & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9. Marlins Park will host teams from Venezuela and Dominican Republic Nov. 21-22 in the first 'Serie de las Americas' tournament. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, the next-to-last that will appear in the print edition, meaning the newspaper. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canesfan Satisfaction Meter Game 1 poll and results, Hot Button Top 10, Upset Bird Countdown & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

1aa1acolbertOn Stephen Colbert: His debut last night helming CBS' Late Show was uneven and found him seeming a bit nervous, as you'd expect. The interviews with George Clooney and Jeb Bush weren't great. Some of the bits failed. Make no mistake, though: Colbert is a smart comedic genius or close enough for me, his band is great, and the show will be terrific. Give it time to breathe.

 

UPSET BIRD COUNTDOWN: 2 DAYS: Our 25th Silver Anniversary season of Friday Page NFL predictions 1aa1aazcards 1aa1a2in 1aa1afripix


the Miami Herald, featuring the creepy yet prescient, love-him-or-hate-him Upset Bird, launches Sept. 11. We are doing a 10-day countdown. This year's countdown theme is bird-related nicknames from America's Big Four sports, newest to oldest. Today, at No. 2: Arizona Cardinals, born 1920. [Previous: #10--Toronto Blue Jays/1977; #9--Seattle Seahawks/'76; #8--Pittsburgh Penguins/'67; #7--Atlanta Falcons/'66; #6--Baltimore Orioles/'54; #5--Atlanta Hawks/'51; #4--Philadelphia Eagles/'33; #3Chicago Blackhawks/'26].

SERENA: G.O.A.T. (GREATEST OF ALL TIME)?: Compelling. Watching Serena Williams defeat her sister Venus 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the U.S. Open last night was great sports, great TV, great theater. I have seldom seen Venus play better; not for years, anyway. Neither have I seen Serena more intense in a match vs. 1aa1aserenawher sister -- a passion she needed to keep alive her dream of accomplishing the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Winning the Open this week would also tied Graf's 22 career Grand Slam titles for second all-time, trailing only Margaret Court's 24. Serena, who lives in Palm Beach, will turn 34 on Sept. 26. She is a marvel, a rarity -- playing her best tennis, at this age. I think she will surpass Court and make it mathematically official but, for me, that isn't required. For me, right now, Serena is the greatest women's player of all time. Some of it may be generational (athletes are just better now). Just as it's hard to imagine Bill Russell defending Shaq, it's hard to imagine Chris Evert dealing with Serena's physical game and power. I doubt most will agree with me that Serena is the G.O.A.T. A fraction of the resistance may be racial. I think most of it is simply that Serena is not the easiest athlete to like. She has some diva in her, some temper. But that is part of her game, too. Gives her some of her swagger. In any case, take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

HOWARD SCHNELLENBERGER: THE ULTIMATE GAME OF "WHAT IF...": Call it Schnellenberger Week in South Florida, with FAU hosting the Miami Hurricanes this Friday night in a battle of the two football programs he built from scratch (Owls) or saved and made powerful (Canes). The occasion was bigger, 1aa1ahow1 1aa1ahow2more historic, in 2013 when these schools met for the first time, but I'll take any opportunity to appreciate Schnellenberger, now 81. (Some may recall my column from Aug. 5 promoting the man for the college Hall of Fame; click on Howard Deserves the Hall to read). This week invites the ultimate game of "What If," Miami sports edition. What if Schnellenberger had never left UM, after that '83 national championship, to pursue that ill-fated Miami USFL job that never materialized? Wouldn't at least some of those subsequent four UM national titles been on his watch? Isn't it very possible he'd have become Miami's Bobby Bowden -- the long-serving Canes coach Miami never has managed in its modern era? Howard is reluctant to admit regrets about leaving UM when he did. "If I had the same group of facts I would have made the same decision a second time," he says. But, with hindsight 20/20, the regret seeps through when he adds, "Common sense says we probably would have been able to continue in the direction we were going, which would include some [additional] championships." Bottom line: "I make a decision and I live with it," he says. And here's the glass, half-full, not empty: Had Howard stayed at UM, he might never have gone on to resurrect the Louisville program or start the one at FAU -- the one with the great little 30,000-seat stadium that is hosting Friday's game because Schnellenberger saw it built. Pictured are two of Schnellenberger's lasting monuments: UM's first national championship, and FAU's campus stadium.  

1aa1adanshowBREAKFAST WITH LEBATARD!: The Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz made its ballyhooed move from afternoons to mornings yesterday, debuting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Ticket Miami and 10-1 on ESPN Radio. No me, though. I'm the regular Tuesday guest-host, but the show wanted the new-time debut to be feature regulars only, no guest host. My ego had a slight bruise, but I was a little upset totally understood!

Heat's Riley sort of not quite says he has a championship roster: On LeBatard yesterday Heat president Pat Riley said, "This team has all of the elements of a championship team." And, "This team has the opportunity and the possibilities of being a contender. I’m excited about this season." Um, but Pat also said: "You know what I’m going to say. I was a coach, and if I had five guys off the street, I would say we could win a championship. That’s either my naivete' or competitive will."

MARLINS COMPLETE 2016 HOME SCHEDULE: Miami will open the season at home with two games vs 1aa1abbmarlinsthe Detroit Tigers next April 5-6. The complete 81-game home schedule: APRIL: 5-6 vs. Tigers; 15-17 vs. Braves; 18-21 vs. Nationals. MAY: 3-5 vs. Diamondbacks; 6-8 vs. Phillies; 9-11 vs. Brewers; 20-22 vs. Nationals; 23-24 vs. Rays; 30-31 vs. Pirates. JUNE: 1-2 vs. Pirates; 3-5 vs. Mets; 17-20 vs. Rockies; 21-22 vs. Braves; 23-26 vs. Cubs. JULY: 8-10 vs. Reds; 11-14: All-Star Break; 22-24 vs. Mets; 25-27 vs. Phillies; 28-31 vs. Cardinals. AUGUST: 8-10 vs. Giants; 12-14 vs. White Sox; 23-25 vs. Royals; 26-28 vs. Padres. SEPTEMBER: 5-7 vs. Phillies; 9-11 vs. Dodgers; 19-21 vs. Nationals; 22-25 vs. Braves; 26-28 vs. Mets.

SOPY: FAU'S JOHNSON TAKES EARLY LEAD IN 'STATE HEISMAN': Welcome back to the fourth season of 1aa1asopy 1aa1ajjohnsonour blog's SOPY: State Offensive Player of the Year -- our weekly rankings of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers for the state's seven FBS teams. This is a cumulative ranking that encompasses Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Our Week 1 leader is Jacquez Johnson (pictured), the dual-threat FAU Owls QB the Hurricanes will face in Boca Raton this Friday. The 2015 SOPY Top 10 for Week 1:

2015 SOPY TOP 10 / WEEK 1

Rk      Player, team-pos.                W1/Season

1        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      240.5

2        Dalvin Cook, FSU-rb                 181

3        Everett Golson, FSU-qb            175

4        Alex Gardner, FIU-rb                155

5        Quinton Flowers, SoFla-qb      151.5

6        Greg Howell, FAU-rb                 150

7        Alex McGough, FIU-qb              148

8t       Will Grier, Florida-qb                143

8t       Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb             143

10       Treon Harris, Florida-qb          142.5

Bubble: Justin Holman, UCF-qb, 140.5. Other team leader: Rashawn Scott, Miami-wr, 106. Season best: Johnson, FAU-qb, 240.5, Week 1. Note: All teams 1 game each.

SOPY Champions: 2014--Duke Johnson, Miami-rb, 1,968; 2013--Jameis Winston, FSU-qb, 2,107; 2012--Stephen Morris, Miami-qb, 1,900.5.

Cote's State of the State ranking: 1. Florida State (1-0); 2. Florida (1-0); 3. Miami (1-0); 4. South Florida (1-0); 5. FIU (1-0); 6. UCF (0-1); 7. FAU (0-1).

Join us on Twitter @gregcote and revisit the blog frequently because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...